Feature Articles

Sharing Kyoto's monthly special reports about the seasons, traditions, and popular spots of Kyoto.


Kyoto Oden Guide – From Classics to the Unconventional

When you're talking wintery Japanese foods, what's the first thing to come to mind? Shabu shabu? Sukiyaki? Maybe even boiled yu-dofu? Yes, while these are pretty well known overseas, there's one warm, winter Japanese dish that hasn't made its way to the food courts and sushi bars of the west. That's right, we're talking about the essential Japanese winter food–oden! This Japanese stew-like amalgam of ingredients is made up of dashi broth filled with the likes of hard boiled eggs and white daikon radish. While you'll see it at some homes, a lot of the time, people eat oden outside at food stalls and izakaya pubs with heated tables called kotatsu to warm themselves. This tradition of eating oden in winter has essentially woven itself into the winter customs of Japan. While oden is a simple dish at its core, this has opened it up to a world of innovation across the varied regions of Japan. In this oden feature, we will highlight all the fantastic and exciting aspects of oden in Kyoto. Not only because we love Kyoto, but because the area in and around Kyoto is one of the coldest in Japan, so naturally, winter just isn't complete here without oden. Take a look over all parts of the feature and see everything from veteran oden restaurants beloved by Kyoto locals, to the best places to grab a drink with your oden and enjoy something a little out of the ordinary.
Culture Oct. 08, 2021

Kyoto's World Heritage Level Autumn Leaves – What’s Your Plans? Kyoto Autumn Feature

Have you seen autumn in Kyoto? When most people in the west think of autumn, they usually think of the yellow maple leaves of places like the maple road in Canada and the Westonbirt, National Arboretum in England. However, in Japan, autumn is marked by the vibrant, warm, and mainly red colors of Japanese maple trees. These bright red maples are such a staple in Japan that they have come to be thought of as the symbol of all of Japan’s four seasons. Due to its natural basin like terrain, Kyoto sees sprawling areas of tree-covered hills and mountains. This leads to one of the best things about Kyoto, the fact that you’re sure to catch the vibrant autumn leaves somewhere around the city. In early November, you will see slight tinge of color on the leaves, but if you want to see the full-blown deep red tones of Kyoto’s autumn, then we recommend coming in late November to early December. However, as there are years when the temperature and weather make the leaves suddenly all change color over a single week, specifying the best time to see the leaves is tricky. Known for its sprawling greenery, temples, and shrines, Kyoto is also home to a great number of different autumn spots. In this year’s autumn feature, we’ve compiled Sharing Kyoto’s top picks for the best autumn leaf spots around Kyoto and categorized them by the different ways to enjoy them. So this year, pick an activity that suits you and let's go stare at some leaves!
Season Oct. 11, 2021

Drinking and Walking through Kyoto Summer Nights

The best way to enjoy hot summer nights in Kyoto has to be Nomi-aruki, or bar-hopping. After a long day of trecking around smoldering hot sightseeing, nothing beats grabbing some friends and hitting the breezy streets of night time Kyoto for a good, cold drink. Kyoto is home to a slew of Nomi-aruki spots, making bar-hopping a great way to enjoy nights in Japan’s ancient capital. The walks in between the bars can't be understated either, as those late-night strolls through the ancient streets are one of the biggest highlights of bar hopping in this city. The nearly deserted streets lit by the dim light of traditional paper lanterns give off a dramatically different atmosphere from the day, making these walks as interesting and fun as any of the bars you'll visit. In this Nomi-aruki Feature, the writers of Sharing Kyoto introduce you to their favorite ways to enjoy summer nights in Kyoto. So, grab some friends, and with these articles in hand, hit the streets of Kyoto for some summertime bar hopping!
Season Aug. 07, 2019

A Comprehensive Guide to Enjoying Yourself at Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri!

When we get asked about summer events in Kyoto, the first one that always comes to mind is the Gion Matsuri festival — one of Kyoto’s big three festivals. This festival is loved by foreign tourists and Japanese local alike, making it an absolutely enormous event every year. The most popular part of the festival is the “Yoiyama,” which includes both the early part of the festival known as the “Saki Matsuri” and procession of Yamahoko wooden floats. In our feature on the Gion Matsuri Festival, the Sharing Kyoto team introduces you to everything from the must-see events to the foods you absolutely can’t miss out on. Also, as Kyoto gets boiling hot during the summer, we’ve provided some tips about the right clothing and things to watch out for at the festival. Check out all four of our comprehensive articles on the festival and have a great time at Kyoto’s biggest and most exciting event of the year!
Culture Jul. 22, 2019

Eat hot food to get through the cold winter of Kyoto!

When the cold winter winds howl in Kyoto, and the temperatures drop below 10 degrees, it truly starts to feel freezing. But worry not! With a hot pot dish and some hot noodles, you’re going to be able to get through the winter in Kyoto. There are udon and soba noodles, yudofu, hot pot, and hot drinks for you to enjoy here, so there is something for everyone, so come join me on my trip to find out about the most heart and body warming dishes in Kyoto!
Season Feb. 22, 2019

Eat, drink, and play in Kyoto – in Nanzen-ji and Okazaki!

The area of Nanzen-ji is a place you definitely have to visit if you’re coming to Kyoto in spring or autumn! If you walk for a bit you will get to the sightseeing area around Heian Shrine, Okazaki, which has a splendid cultural feel to it, and these two areas, Nanzen-ji and Okazaki, are easy to fit into a full day itinerary. In this time’s feature article, we take a look at the restaurants, sightseeing spots, and shops that await you in Nanzen-ji and Okazaki! I’m sure you will have fun during your trip to Kyoto if you read this feature article!
Area Dec. 05, 2018

Traditional handicrafts from Kyoto

Kimono, Kyo-yaki, Kyo-zogan, and many other words for different types of handicrafts are something you quite often hear in Kyoto, a place famed for its temples, which in turn then became patrons of art, which then lead to the birth of the “dento koge,” traditional handicrafts of Kyoto.
Culture Dec. 02, 2018

Most beautiful autumn leaf viewing spots in Kyoto

The temples of Kyoto get crowded in autumn, but if you take the train to go see them, at least you won’t have to worry about the overcrowded buses!
Season Nov. 26, 2018

The tea culture of Kyoto

The tea culture of Kyoto is very old, and you can even find the oldest tea field in Kyoto in the area of Takao, at the World Heritage Site of Kosan-ji Temple. Tea ceremony and matcha are maybe the most important part of tea in Kyoto, but there are also many other types of delicious teas in Koyto, some with a lot of umami, some with a more grassy taste, and some that have a nice smokiness to them. Read below if you want to know more about the types of teas you can find in Kyoto, like gyokuro, kabusecha, sencha, hojicha, and many more.
Culture Oct. 15, 2018

Kawadoko in Kyoto: an outstanding summer dining experience

Summer in Kyoto means kawayuka – riverside dining. Kawayuka is also called “nature’s air conditioner.” In summer Kyoto gets humid and very hot; so many people escape this weather to the kawayuka dining platforms. When you talk of kawayuka in Kyoto, the one by the Kamo River, often shortened yuka, is probably the most famous. There are different styles of kawayuka in Kyoto, and they’re enjoyed in different ways. One of the most exciting things about the kawayuka by the Kamo River is the way you can enjoy different types of food, from Japanese washoku to such international cuisines as French and Italian. In Kibune you get to enjoy your food on top of a river, and in Takao, you get to enjoy the cool air and be surrounded by nature. So, this time we are going to introduce to you three different areas and three different types of kawayuka, by the Kamo River, in Kibune, and in Takao.
Culture Sep. 30, 2018

Renovated machiya-style townhouse fun in Kyoto! Eat, drink, and have fun in machiya!

When you walk on the historic streets of Kyoto, you will undoubtedly notice all the old houses lining the streets. These houses are actually called “Kyoto machiya townhouses.” Do you know what this word means? It’s the townhouses that the people of Kyoto used to live in, but, sadly, with the advent of modernity, the number of houses like this has gone down dramatically. Luckily, there is now a movement to restore these Kyoto machiya townhouses to their former glory. So now you can find all kinds of restaurants and shops located in machiya, so keep reading if you want to know what kinds of machiya townhouse restaurants, shops, and experiences you can find in Kyoto!
Culture Jul. 29, 2018

Cleanse your mind and body at the Japanese gardens of Kyoto!

Kyoto’s temples are always a popular sightseeing destination for tourists. Getting to admire beautiful gardens at these temples is an experience that is bound to leave a lasting memory! But how are these gardens categorized? What are the differences between garden types? I think that this is a question most people can’t answer without looking at Wikipedia! In this feature article, we will take a look at the defining characters of different types of Japanese gardens, and also take the Randen tram to see some gardens. And lastly, we will go find some great restaurants with nice gardens! I hope you will enjoy the profound world of Japanese gardens!
Culture Sep. 10, 2018

Kyoto's delicious sandwiches & burgers

The words "sandwiches" and "burgers" should be familiar to everyone! However, have you ever tried eating sandwiches and burgers in a place as atmospherically time-honored as Kyoto? You may feel a slight sense of inconsistency. Sandwiches and burgers that originated in Europe have been introduced to Japan and undergone a baptism by the local culture. As a result, they have developed and transformed into a variety of different styles. European-style sandwiches tend to use hard bread, while Japanese-style sandwiches tend to use soft white bread. Of course, the fillings are also Japanese in style and have their own unique delicious taste. In this special report, let us uncover the mysteries of Kyoto's sandwiches & burgers and explore this delicious culinary world!
Culture Aug. 27, 2018

Kyoto - A Pink Wonderland of Cherry Blossom Spots

It's nearly that time of year again when Japan's ancient capital fills with breathtaking pink flowers and hordes of sakura seeking sightseers — the cherry blossom season! No matter if you're traveling to Kyoto alone, with friends, family or are enjoying sweet sweet retirement, this feature will have something for you. We have chosen some of our favorite cherry blossom spots and nearby restaurants so that you can enjoy this blip on the seasonal calendar and the magnificent ancient city of Kyoto to their fullest! Scroll down to find out which are the best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto!
Season Apr. 21, 2020

The shrines and temples of Kyoto and their traditional Japanese sweets!

There are many shrines and temples in Kyoto, many of them World Heritage Sites, so a huge number of tourists visit them every year. But did you know that some of these places of worship have their own Japanese sweet they’re famous for? In Japanese, these treats are called “Sweets sold in front of the temple gates,” which as you can probably guess, is where most of the places selling these sweets are located. These sweets are great to have when at the temple, or you can eat them later at your hotel. In this article, we take a look at what kinds of shrine-sweets you can have in Kyoto, and what they have to do with the shrine! So come with Vanessa and find out which are the best shrine-sweets in Kyoto!
Culture Jul. 20, 2018

Winter in Kyoto is cold but actually great for sightseeing!

January and February are the coldest months in Kyoto, and you can even get to see snow here. But if you wear the right clothes, this period is great for sightseeing. If you want to know what to wear in January and February in Kyoto, and what to eat, look no further! We’re also going to say cheers with a glass of hot sake!
Season Dec. 05, 2018

Romantic and happy winter in Kyoto!

After the autumn leaves season ends, and the calendar turns to December, it’s time in Kyoto to really start the winter preparations. In Kyoto, this means that the atmosphere turns a little bit more western from the traditional, and there are even Christmas light shows for you to see. But the most important thing has to be Christmas and the New Year’s celebrations. So come and join Vanessa on her journey to find out the most romantic restaurants and illumination events in Kyoto! It’s time to hold hands and go into the winter night of Kyoto!
Season Dec. 13, 2018

Time to change to a kimono and go for a walk in Gion!

Among the sightseeing spots of Kyoto, one of the most popular ones is Gion. But do you know why Gion is known as the geisha district of Kyoto? And what is the difference between maiko and geisha, or geiko as they are called in Kyoto? We are going to find out, and on the way we are also going to rent a kimono, go to the shrines and temples of Gion, and finish with some fine dining establishments with Michelin stars. So, it is time to start our trip to the traditional hanamachi of Gion!
Area Aug. 04, 2018

Exploring Kyoto in autumn!

Autumn is fast closing in on Kyoto, and soon the leaves of the maple trees will turn into vivid shades of red and yellow. In this article, you get to read about three wonderful itineraries for viewing autumn leaves in Kyoto, and in part four you even get to know about autumn leaves night illumination events that take place here in the old capital of Japan.
Season Nov. 21, 2018

Perfect guide for autumn leaves in Kyoto

Autumn in Kyoto means autumn leaves. The historic temples of this ancient capital are surrounded by red and yellow leaves, and in this article you can find out which of the temples are the best during the autumn leaves season in Kyoto. I have for you four parts, each divided by how far the temples are and into classics and places off the beaten path.
Season Jan. 23, 2018

Ultimate Arashiyama guide for beginners

Arashiyama is one of the most famous sightseeing areas in Kyoto. The mountains and the Bamboo Grove, the temples and shrines… there is a lot to see, and it may be hard to decide where to go to. Here you have a classic half-day itinerary for Arashiyama plus some places for those who are feeling more adventurous!
Area Aug. 13, 2018

The perfect dessert for a hot summer’s day!

The best summer sweets in Kyoto have to be kakigori, also known as shaved ice, and parfaits. There is nothing better than a cold dessert on a hot summer's day.
Season Sep. 01, 2018

The first day of summer in Kyoto

After the cherry blossom season, just when the hot summer is beginning, many people may think of this period as just a time when Kyoto is sleeping and waiting for the jubilant events of Gion Matsuri and Gozan no Okuribi. Kyoto is surrounded by mountains and because of this the summers are extremely hot and humid; so much so that you may be tempted to just stay in air-conditioned cafes and restaurants. But after the cherry blossoms, it is time for spring greenery in Kyoto, and there are many fun events and places where you can enjoy the green leaves! The grand play of nature you get to see at Kifune Shrine and Kurama Temple; the maple leaves almost shining in vivid shades of green; the cute hydrangea flowers you get to see during Japan’s rainy season, “tsuyu;” the beer gardens sure to be make you refreshed… In the four parts of this article, you can find out about the best ways to spend your summer in Kyoto. I hope this article can be of help to you when you come to Kyoto in summer!
Season Aug. 17, 2018

Shopping in Teramachi and Shinkyogoku!

If you look up places to go shopping in Kyoto, you are going to run into Teramachi and Shinkyogoku shopping streets. These streets used to be famous only in Japan, especially among students, but right now they are also famous with visitors from overseas. This is a feature article that will guide you through both of these streets! Sharing Kyoto will tell you which of the old shops are in even to this day, and which of the new ones are worth a visit, and lastly, we even have a shopping report! Join us on our fun trip to Teramachi & Shinkyogoku!
Area Dec. 01, 2018

A complete guide to Fushimi Inari Shrine

Maybe the most famous among the many sightseeing spots in Kyoto is Fushimi Inari Shrine. Many people head to the shrine to see the mysterious sight of the countless torii gates and the many foxes guarding the shrine. But Fushimi Inari Shrine is not only about torii gates and foxes, there is a lot more to the over 1000-year old shrine. By reading this feature article you will get a better sense of what Fushimi Inari Shrine really is about, like: What is Fushimi Inari Shrine’s history like? Why are there shrines all the way up the mountain? Why are there so many foxes at Fushimi Inari Shrine? And why are there so many torii gates? What are the most popular Fushimi Inari Shrine souvenirs? You will find the answers to these questions and more by clicking on the links below:
Area Nov. 25, 2018

Soba and udon have always been loved by the people of Kyoto

Soba and udon noodles are Japanese comfort food. The history of soba and udon in Japan is actually really long, Japanese people have known soba and udon for around one thousand years. I don’t know but maybe it is because of this history that I sometimes just really want to eat soba or udon. I run into a restaurant to taste those fragrant noodles with the delicious dashi soup that goes down so well. I smell the fragrance of the bonito and kelp stock and slurp the noodly deliciousness. Mmm… yummy! I wonder why soba and udon make my heart flutter. In this feature article I am going to find out what makes Japanese people love soba and udon. Of course there are many famous and long-established restaurants in Kyoto. I am going to introduce many long-established restaurants that have been loved by many generations of Kyotoites, but I am also going to establish the latest and hippest in the world of soba and udon. In part two I am going to introduce to you the cool and fashionable way of using soba restaurants as pubs. Drinking at soba restaurants was called “sobayanomi” in Japan 300 years ago. Nowadays many young people don’t even know about “sobayanomi”. But drinking at soba restaurants is not like drinking at pubs, it is cooler. I am going to introduce you the best places to do “sobayanomi” and how to enjoy it to the fullest. Welcome to the profound world of soba and udon. After reading this feature article I am sure you will want to fly to Kyoto and enjoy the fragrance and taste of soba and udon. Let’s all get immersed into the world of soba and udon!
Culture May. 21, 2018

Recommended Places to Visit during Kyoto's Cherry Blossom Season

Every year, spring brings a wave of sentimental feelings to the people of Japan. With many starting new schools and new jobs in April, cherry blossoms have become a symbol of encouragement throughout the country. Cherry blossoms, also known as sakura in Japanese, are often used as the symbol of Japan. Nowadays cherry blossoms can be seen in places across the globe, like Washington D.C., because the Japanese government gives the trees as presents to foreign states to strengthen international relations. In Japan, there are about 300 different types of cherry blossoms. Among them, Somei Yoshino the type most familiar with Japanese people. Interestingly, most cherry trees are planted, so all the trees in a given area are likely to be related and share the same DNA. This means they tend to blossom and lose their petals at the same time as each other. From March until May, the entirety of Japan is swept with cherry blossoms. Nonetheless, you don't want to miss the historical city of Kyoto during this wonderful season. We hope that you'll enjoy the cherry blossom season the same way the people of Kyoto do. From wonderful walks by canals lined with cherry blossoms to feeling the spring breeze on your skin as it swirls petals off the trees, there are so many incredible things ways to experience spring in Kyoto.
Season Mar. 11, 2020

The Sticky Rice Cakes the Japanese People Can’t Get Enough Of!

Have you had “mochi” (Japanese Rice cakes)? Since there are a lot of famous Japanese confectionery shops and teahouses in Kyoto, you may have already tried Warabi-mochi or dumplings. However, these are not exactly mochi. Then, what is mochi? It is food made from mochi rice, and looks white, and has a sticky texture. The white object is bland as it as, so they are often eaten with some seasonings or broth soup after grilling or boiling. It might be not familiar to you if you are from out of Japan, but for Japanese, traditional ingredient from an ancient time. We will feature “Kyoto’s mochi” in this article. Kyoto has many Japanese confectioners, not to mention temples and shrines, no wonder classic, recommended rice cake or events are found. This time, we are going to introduce mochi rice cake from 3 different points of view, “learn”, “eat”, and “make.” In Part1, you can see the representative mochi-food “zoni” and also Kyoto’s local zoni. Part2 shows you sweet mochi at Kyoto’s teahouses. Then Part3 comes, get to know mochi-related events take place in temples and shrines. Finally Part4! Sharing Kyoto members have actually practiced mochi-making! We are very happy if you find “mochi” attractive through our features.
Culture Nov. 30, 2018

The Best Ways to Find Antiques in Kyoto

What are antiques to you? Are they something to be left in the attic, or do you still use them every day? There are many different ways of looking at antiques, but many people in Japan think of antiques as something you could use every day. In fact there are of course some rare antiques valued in the hundreds of thousands or even millions, and you may feel reluctant to enter the world of shops or people that deal with only those kinds of objects. However, originally in Japan, antiques are not purely decorative objects never to be touched. They are "things that are close at hand every day", to be treasured but also to be carefully and continually used on a daily basis. Of course, the cost is a stretch compared to the crockery and furniture that we can so easily buy. However, considering the cost performance, their color does not fade for 100 or 200 years; on the contrary, antiques that have a long history and are even more rich and tasteful than when they are new will be tens of times better. Food or sake served in antique dishes or cups is delicious. I think that it may be thanks to the hands of many people it has passed through. The hands of the people who carefully made each and every one, the hands of the former owners who carefully used it, and the hands of the people kept it until passing it on to the next owner, it is deeply embued with the memories of various people. Doesn’t something taste more delicious because the thought is subtly conveyed of someone treasuring a particular object? Antiques are truly fascinating. This time, we bring you how to enjoy such "antiques for everyday use". You might wonder "why antiques in Kyoto?", but actually it is “antiques because it’s Kyoto.” The reason is that Kyoto has an abundance of ways to enjoy antiques: two major antique fairs held every month; antique shops that you can enter casually; Teramachi-dori, which is a street famous for art; and Kyoto Grand Antique Fair, the largest antique fair in western Japan. If you take the time to visit Kyoto, why not try touching the antiques of Kyoto? In several parts based on different themes, let’s find out how to enjoy antiques!
Culture Nov. 12, 2018

Yuka - Outdoor Riverside Dining in Sunset and Night of Kiyamachi

The summers in Kyoto are hot, which is why the people of Kyoto have thought of ways to enjoy their summers in cooler ways. One of these ways is yuka, which literally means floor, but which in Kyoto means outdoor riverside dining areas that are set along the Kamo River. Restaurants that have yuka dining are open from May 1 to September 30. Offering both lunch and dinner, but the best time to visit a yuka has to be during sunset, although many of the restaurants are open until 11 p.m. The cool river air and the sky turning to pleasant yellows and fiery reds make you wonder why anyone would like to go to any place but Kyoto.
Season Nov. 05, 2018

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